Work Party ReportMarch 27, 1999
This is a report on the work that members of the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club performed on trails in the Lee District of the George Washington National Forest on March 27. It is excerpted from the report we filed with the U.S. Forest Service.
Seventeen people met for breakfast on the morning of March 27. After a briefing that included a discussion of safety considerations, we broke into five groups. All groups completed their assignments safely. Here is a report of each team's work and the trail conditions each team observed. Our work was primarily clearing brush and, in one case, painting blazes. We did not use chain saws and were unable to remove trees with large trunk diameters. The trails were in much better shape this year, than last. All are now passable, although most were before we started. (Abbreviations: MMW = Massanutten Mountain West Trail; MME = Massanutten Mountain East Trail; MMS = Massanutten Mountain South Trail)
#1 Carolyn Gernand led Bill Sublett, Greg Power, and John Raney up Habron Gap. Her report:
"Not much new stuff down on the lower section (in the trees). We removed mostly older blowdown, leaving two or three big ones that people had already made paths around. On the upper section, in the mountain laurels, we moved several small tree trunks, but there were two or three large ones on which we just cut off the branches so people could climb over more easily. The orange trail from Habron Gap to Jack's Notch had mostly small stuff that we could move, and the larger things appeared to have tolerated for some time. All were low to the ground, and again we cut off branches that got in the way of climbing over or stepping over.
"Actually the main problem on the Habron Gap blue trail (east face of mountain) is that the lower part is becoming a stream. The water cut appears already too deep for easy construction of any kind of water diverter bars. May want eventually to reroute trail off to the side to let the water have its way."
#2 Jeanne Christie led Larry DeHof and Mike McCumber on the Bird Knob and Gap Creek Trails. Her report:
"Visitor Center to Bird Knob:
"We covered the trail [MMS] from the Visitor Center up to the place where the trail splits on Bird Nob (the turn around point). There is one place where there are three or four large logs across the trail. The are located 3/4 of the way up the hill about 1.5 miles in from either direction. There are two that runners will have to crouch and crawl under. The other one or two can be stepped over or around without difficulty. At least one or two of these were there last year. The trouble is that they are very large and is a long walk to carry a chain saw into them. The rest of the trail is in excellent shape and does not require any additional work.
"Gap Creek to Duncan Hollow Trail
"We also covered the trail from Gap Creek to Duncan Hollow, hung a right on the old Middle Mountain trail and came back on the yellow blazed trail--(Scothorn Gap) to where it joins up with blue-blazed Gap Creek trail. No fire, no smoking, no spark signs are up all over there. If there is high fire hazard around race time, we should make sure all the volunteer aid station captains know so we can plan our food heat sources appropriately.
"The trails are totally clear of logs. However, I am concerned about the deteriorating condition of the trail on the climb out of Gap Creek. Erosion of the trail is very noticeable over the past two or three years. I don't know much about trail stabilization, but I think that putting in some water bars in the correct places might make an enormous difference. My guess is that the cause is either that the soils are more susceptible to erosion and/or the path has become a preferred pathway for water on that slope. The rest of the trail is in good shape from near the top of climb and the remainder of the circuit we hiked."
#3 Joe Clapper led Peyton Robinson, Frank Probst, and Marty Szekeresh on the trail from Waterfall Mt. to Scothorn Gap.
This group started at the Crisman Hollow Road trail head of the Waterfall Mt.Trail and went over Waterfall Mt., down to the MME, up to Scothorn Gap and down the Scothorn Gap Trail to Crisman Hollow Road. There was nothing to do. The trail was clear. They went to help other groups.
#4 Bill Wandel led Phil Young and Douglas Clark on the MMW trail from Edinburg Gap to Woodstock Tower. They cleared several trees and some light brush. This trail is now passable.
#5 Stan Duobinis, Margie Schlundt, and I did the MMW trail on Short Mountain. We started at Edinburg Gap and cleared several medium sized trees that were across the trail. There are two "leaners" within the first mile or so that we didn't deal with. They are not across the trail, but the base of each is abutting the trail. Probably don't need to be removed, but when they do fall, they may obstruct the trail. Near the middle of the trail, the blazes ended. We blazed about one mile of the trail each direction. We put two coats of the provided orange paint on as instructed. As we covered the last two miles of the trail, it was becoming late and there were a few trees we could not clear. There are, in particular, three or four rather large logs across the trail in the first half mile as you go up the hill from the FS374 at the south end of this trail section. If someone could take a chain saw to these, it would be great, but it's not necessary.
Overall, this trail is now in good shape. The path is well defined and it is blazed all the way. There is little brush on the trail, but it is very rocky most of the way.
In summary, we believe that we cleared all of the trail we set out to cover. As noted above, there are a few big, down trees that it would be nice to clear with a chain saw but nothing that is crying to be done.
It is clear that we need to move to the next level of trail maintenance and do some earth moving and minor relocation. We look forward to working with the U.S. Forest Service and the PATC to do this. Additionally, we would like to channel our resources into helping with the completion of the trail over Jawbone Gap. We look forward to using that trail section in 2000.
We especially appreciate the help that Wil Kohlbrenner of the PATC gave us. On very short notice, he gave us all the materials to blaze the MMW trail and instructions for us rookies to do it. (Margie and Stan did all the actual painting and I think they did a great job.) We are indebted for all the work that Wil and the PATC do to maintain these great trails. We hope to work more closely with them in the future.
We appreciate the opportunity to work on the trails we use and love. Obviously, we had some self-interest as we will use these trails for our hundred mile run in May, but we are also pleased that our work will contribute to the experience of all visitors to the Lee Ranger District. We thank the Forest Service for the cooperation it has shown us over the years and look forward to another work day soon.
--Submitted by Anstr Davidson